Birth Control Rule

04.02.1310:49 PM ET

Religious Organizations Want to Have Cake, Eat It Too

‘Secular’ when they want federal funds. ‘Religious’ when they don’t want to cover contraceptives.

The Obama administration is nearing its April 8 deadline for accepting public comment on its birth control benefit rule, which—among other things—would require insurance companies to offer separate contraceptive coverage, at no additional cost, directly to employees of religious institutions that object to providing birth control.

Meanwhile, over at RH Reality Check, columnist and attorney Bridgette Dunlap is investigating how certain universities and institutions are switching up their self-reported “religious mission” to woo local, state, or federal funding while avoiding the birth control benefit.

Let Dunlap explain how it works: “It is not enough for an institution seeking special treatment to simply assert that it holds itself out as religious. I expect the Obama administration is loathe to define what it means to be a religious organization or police whether an institution is in fact holding itself out as such, and rightly so. Nevertheless, the institution should have to make a statement describing how it holds itself out as religious and what that religiousness entails ... This is necessary due to a pattern of religiously affiliated institutions characterizing themselves one way when recruiting or seeking public funding and another when demanding to be exempt from laws that govern secular institutions.”

Dunlap goes on to examine the long history of “flagrant examples of religiously affiliated institutions trying to have it both ways”—and turns up disturbing inconsistencies at places like Manhattan College, Notre Dame, and top Catholic hospitals.